Smell Of Camphor, Fragrance Of Jasmine

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

A dour, semi-autobiographical and occasionally Fellini-esque mid-life crisis of a movie. Director/writer/star Bahman Farmanara is a 55-year-old Iranian filmmaker who hasn't been able to make a movie in his homeland for over 20 years — thanks to the country's Post-Revolutionary Censor Board. He plays the film's Bahman Farjami, a 55-year-old Iranian filmmaker...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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A dour, semi-autobiographical and occasionally Fellini-esque mid-life crisis of a movie. Director/writer/star Bahman Farmanara is a 55-year-old Iranian filmmaker who hasn't been able to make a movie in his homeland for over 20 years — thanks to the country's Post-Revolutionary Censor Board. He plays the film's Bahman Farjami, a 55-year-old Iranian filmmaker who hasn't been able to... Well, you get the idea. In any case, Farmanara/Farjami is a pot-bellied chain smoker with a history of heart attacks and a keen sense of his own mortality; after several of his older filmmaker friends pass on, he decides to return home, ostensibly to make a film about his own funeral, but mostly to try to make sense of his life. Once he enters the country, however, everything seems slightly menacing and strange. A woman to whom he gives a ride turns out to have a truly awful secret. While visiting his beloved wife Jaleh's grave, Farjami discovers a stranger interred in the plot reserved for him. His Alzheimer's-stricken mother sits in a wheelchair all day staring into space, and his sister is a nag. Farjami even has a dream in which a horde of midgets dressed like headwaiters try to kill him. Fellini-esque? Perhaps Woody Allen-esque is more to the point. It's hard not to feel a certain sympathy for Farmanara and his frustration at being artist in exile. And the glimpses he shows us of current conditions in Iran are rather interesting; it turns out that if you're middle class and male, your material trappings — cell phone, VCR, cable TV — are strikingly familiar. Mostly, though, this movie is glacially slow going, and reveals more about the minutiae of Iranian burial customs than most viewers will probably want to know — including the use of camphor, alluded to in the first part of the title. The second part evokes the aromatic jasmine flowers that fill Farmanara's mother's home. (In Farsi, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A dour, semi-autobiographical and occasionally Fellini-esque mid-life crisis of a movie. Director/writer/star Bahman Farmanara is a 55-year-old Iranian filmmaker who hasn't been able to make a movie in his homeland for over 20 years — thanks to the co… (more)

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